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Part 1 Recap – Deep in the Red

Meet the Party…

IconDanzikerCAPTAIN DANZIKER

Captain Danziker was a pirate of legend that braved the Iron Seas.  He was a born swindler, escape artist and a man made for the likes of Shadow Port.  It is rumored that Danziker even sold his plunder to the Prince himself and made a bargain with the Lich King for safe passage around Necropolis.  Those were the good ol’ days.   These days Danziker is a captain without a ship, thanks to the rotten Emperor.  Most days he can be found on the docks loaded to the gunwales, reeking of rum and digging himself even deeper in the red.  Few people believe this sad excuse for a pirate was ever the Danizker of legend.  Most simply call him the disgraceful knave…

IconGiladanGIL-ADAN

Gil-adan is a Wood Elf Sorcerer that once served the Emperor as a dragon knight, but was exiled from his Order for disobeying a command.  While his relationship with the Emperor remains complicated, he is still held in a positive light among fellow elves in the Court of Stars.  In need of a new career in life, Gil-adan studied magic at the Archmage’s College of Magical Theory in Horizon.  He then turned to the life of a field academic with backgrounds in history, survival and appraisal of ancient artifacts.  Three months ago agents of the Prince of Shadows rescued Gil-adan from a tight spot when the sorcerer stole an ancient artifact belonging to the Lich King.  Now the Prince has called upon Gil-adan to pay for the price of his safety…

IconKrogar

KROGAR

Krogar is a Half-Orc Fighter that does not belong to this world.  He hails from a different realm and would do anything to find his way back home.  He has thrown his trust with the Prince of Shadows in hopes the Prince has the resources to send him back home and hide him from the Archmage who is interested in how the half-orc traveled across realities.  Back on his home world Krogar was raised in the Shadow Cat Thieves Guild, but stealth never suited him.  Breaking free of the thieves guild Krogar became a scout in the Knights of the Storm and discovered his calling as a fighter.  He holds the honorable title Hound of the Blood Wolf Tribe.  It is unknown what magics brought Krogar to the Dragon Empire, but he hopes his stay is not a long one…

PrinceOfShadows Shadow Port Shuffle 

Part 1 – Deep in the Red

The squawk of a hundred seagulls split through Captain Danziker’s skull.  The sharp toll of bells did not help either.  The old weather-beaten pirate sat up, pushing his tricorn hat off his face and winced at the too-bright morning sun that reflected off the waters surrounding the docks of Shadow Port. When his eyes adjusted the old pirate realized his drinking companion from the night before was still passed out on the dockside bench next to him.  His trained hands liberated the gnome’s coin purse.  “Many thanks for yer company last night, mate.  Fun as it was, it would be a shame not to take this load off yer shoulders.  Based on the sum o’ ale ye drank last night ye not be remembering this when ye waken.  Off I go now!”

Danziker swayed to his feet and headed towards the streets of Shadow Port.  Mighty proud of himself, he tossed the coin purse in this hand to feel the weight of the gold he has just stolen.  A frown settled on the pirate’s face when the pouch did not jingle as coins normally do when it landed back in the palm of his hand.  Curiously he opened the pouch and inspected the contents.  Nestled between a handful of worthless pebbles was a small scroll that read, “Dark Jester at Sundown.  The Prince calls on your debt.”  A string of colorful curses escaped Danziker’s mouth that would make any seafaring man proud.  He spun around to look back towards the docks, but the gnome was gone.

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Large green-tinted hands dropped a street thug onto the table of a nearby tavern.  The resounding thud the dwarf made when he landed satisfied Krogar the half-orc fighter.  Another job complete, another step closer to returning home.  The half-orc reached his hand expectantly towards the forgeborn that sat across the table.  The forgeborn smiled and produced a single coin from his pocket, passing it across the table.  Krogar looked at the coin confused.  The currency of these lands was still new to him, but he was certain he was being cheated. “The bounty said 50 gold, not just one coin.  Pay up.”

The forgeborn across the table shrugged his shoulders, “I do as the Prince commands.  We thank you for your services.”  Hauling the unconscious dwarf over this shoulder, the forgeborn gave another smile to the fighter.  “We will take care of him.  I’d take another look at that coin if I were you.  Use it to buy a pint of Golden Ale when you figure it out.”  As the forgeborn walked out of the tavern, Krogar flipped the coin and saw the image of a jester with one word scratched into the metal, “Sundown.” Krogar pocketed the coin and walked out onto the streets of Shadow Port.  The pirate haven and smuggle town of Shadow Port was still largely unknown to him.  He would need help puzzling out the meaning of the coin before the sun set.

Gil’Adan bolted upright in his bed, certain he had heard something.  Looking around he found the door and window of the tavern he roomed in for the night remained securely locked.  The wood elf was about to dismiss his alarm and drift back to sleep when he noticed a piece of parchment at the end of his bed that should not have been there.  Gil-Adan hesitantly picked up the parchment and let his eyes read over the words.  ‘Dark Jester at Sundown.  Do not be late.  Order a pint of Golden Ale.  Sorry for borrowing your ink.’  It was upon reading the last sentence that Gil-Adan realized his right arm stung.  A razor thin cut six inches long reached up his forearm.  The letter was written in blood.  His blood.  Shakily, the sorcerer pulled on his boots and grabbed his staff.  It seemed the Prince had finally come to collect his debt.

Krogar’s contacts in the city had recognized the symbol on the coin as belonging to the Dark Jester tavern, but none were particularly helpful with directions.  All they had said was that more than a few bards passing through made it a point to play there.  The half-orc grunted.  What did he care about where Bards played?  He was after a job, nothing more.  He felt a tug at his coin purse. Scowling, he spun around and grabbed at the thief behind him ready to knock his teeth out.  Instead of a cutpurse Krogar found himself holding onto a small child who looked frightened out of his mind.  The child’s mother came running, batting at the half-orc and yelling to remove his hands this instant.  Confused, Krogar dropped the kid and backed away.  Both the pick-pocket and his coin pouch were gone.

Danziker turned a corner and chuckled to himself.  The defenseless child-decoy trick worked every time.  For the second time today Danziker found the coin purse he lifted held something strange.  The coins in the pouch were gold, but inscribed with no markings he recognized from the Dragon Empire.  Oh well, at least they had some value.  A few more sovereigns for drinks tonight would serve him well.  The old knave turned down one of the hidden alleyways of Shadow Port and found a well-dressed wood elf inspecting a statue of a laughing jester pointing northward.  Odd to see such a finely dressed person in these parts, Danziker thought to himself.  For a moment he mused over liberating the wood elf’s coin pouch from his person as well, but given his luck today the rogue thought better of it and sauntered on past.

DarkJesterCovering his noise from the stench wafting from the pirate that just walked past, Gil’Adan took another look at the statue.  His friends at the Drunken Scholar in the Cloud District had directed him to speak to Ma’iq the Liar, a well-known snitch in Shadow Port.  Ma’iq told him very little, but did mention that the jesters knew where the Dark Jester resides.  After seeing several statues of jesters all pointing in one direction or another, the wood elf sorcerer decided to follow the trail.  Eventually, the jester pointed him in the right direction and he found a small door leading to a basement.  A sign above the doorway was covered in grime, but a closer look revealed the image of a shadowy looking jester.  Gil-Adan walked in silently and took a seat near a corner.  Hopefully he would be able to see his contact before they saw him.  It would be a difficult task.  The smoke and sweltering heat from the braziers made the rough tavern popular with tieflings & forgeborn.  A wood elf would be easily noticed among this crowd.

Building a reputation as someone to be feared was an easy task for Krogar.  His time among the Wolf Clan had taught him that.  With the sun sinking lowering in the sky the half-orc started letting his sword do the talking for him.  It was not long before he had the directions he required and found himself in front of the Dark Jester Tavern.  The old door creaked as the half-orc entered.  A demon-touched bard was playing a melancholy tune near a fireplace that reminded him of home.  Krogar walked up to the bartender and found it run by another female tiefling.  “Pint of the Golden Ale.”  He reached towards instinctively towards his coin pouch to pay the barkeep, but his face fell flat when he remembered he was dirt broke.

The bartender smiled and placed a dirty mug on the bar.  “Don’t worry hunny, it’s on the house.  Taps in back, second door on the right.”  She gave Krogar a little wink and went back to tending to her other customers.  Krogar picked up the mug and walked towards the back.  He was followed a moment later by a wood elf dressed in fancy robes.

Danziker entered into the Dark Jester with a broad grin.  He flipped a coin to Revka, the bartender.  She coyly smiled back at him, “Been too long since you’ve graced the Jester with your presence, Captain.”  She slid a pint of Golden Ale across towards him.  “Your acquaintances are already in the back.  You know the room.”  Danziker tipped his hat at the lass and slid another coin across the counter to her.  His drinks tonight would be on that half-orc’s dime.  Opening the door to the back room, he smiled to himself as he saw the same half-orc within accompanied by the well dressed wood elf from the alleyway.  Danziker pulled back a chair, plopped down, and put his feet up on the table.  It was going to be an interesting night.

DarkJesterTavern

The three sat in silence just looking to one another before a rakishly handsome tiefling entered the room.  He smiled wide, “Evening Gentleman… Danziker.”  Danziker chuckled, his reputation preceded him.  “My name is Samuel Dirrel.  You are all here for a similar reason if not for the same cause.  Each of you owe a debt, and these debts are being called in.  You will be given six tasks to complete in order to settle your debt.”  The tiefling poured himself a pint of the golden ale.  “The first is a trial run, you might say.  A simple snatch and grab that any gutter rat worth his salt should be able to manage.”

Krogar grabbed a chair and leaned forward, “A simple snatch and grab for the Prince?  What does that entail?”

Samuel continued.  “Have you ever heard of the Winter Seal?”

Clearing his throat, Gil’Adan spoke up, “The Winter Seal is a relic of the Wizard King’s from an age ago.  It is said to be given to his lieutenants far and wide as symbols of authority.”  Krogar looked uninterested and Danziker busied himself finishing off his ale.  Gil’Adan continued with words they might appreciate more, “It is incredibly valuable.  A statue of an owl crafted out of obsidian and encrusted with sapphires that are set in silver.  Some nobleman in town recently acquired it from a dig he sponsored in the north.”

“Ah hah, a historian!  Perhaps there is hope for you after-all.  You are correct, in part.  Morgan Navale is a man of noble birth if not noble character.”  Samuel laughed at his own joke, “But yes indeed, the Winter Seal has found its way to Shadow Port.  I would like it to be mine.  I believe at least one of you is acquainted with the Navale estate.”  Their host looked towards the grinning pirate.

Danziker chuckled.  “Madeline was a fine beauty.  It weren’t my fault she neglected to mention Morgan was her father.”  The look the half-orc and wood elf gave him gave Danziker another chuckle.

Samuel continued, “Yes, Danziker, your familiarity with his estate and vault is one of the reasons why you are here.  I will be here at Sundown every day for the next week.  If you need any further assistance, I recommend seeking out Lars Redfist.  With that, good luck.  I shall see you soon.”

As Samuel exited, Krogar spoke up, “Let’s find this Lars fellow.  Best to get this done quickly.”  The three of them made their way out of the Dark Jester and across town to the Valegate district.  Krogar had heard of Lars’ reputation as working both sides of the law.  Lars was too well connected for the law or criminal element to afford getting rid of him.  When they reached his estate, they found a three story white building towering above the rest of the neighborhood.  “This must be it.”

PrinceSymbol

As Krogar moved to set into the building he was stopped by a towring orc guard who demanded he identify himself.  Gil-Adan began shifting through his robes to retrieve his travel paperwork, but Danziker brushed past him and clasped the closest guard by the forearm.  “Tiny!  Be that you?”

“Danziker”, the guard muttered.  He looked from the pirate to the two others.  “Surely these two aren’t friends of yours.”

Danziker let loose a crooked smile. “We have business inside.  Lars owes me a favor or two.”

The guard grunted. “Fine then.  Go inside.  Just don’t start no trouble.”  Danziker tipped his hat and led his two companions inside.

Lars was a rotund dwarf who had a scar across his left cheek.  His ample jewelry showed of his wealth and station within the district.  “Ah, gentlemen.  Mr. Dirrel sent word that you would be coming.  I understand you may need some assistance with a small matter soon?  For a small fee, of course.”

They party agreed to giving Lars a cut of whatever profits they might obtain as well as collecting any items of interest they may come across.  When Lars mentioned that Lord Navalle would be hosting a masquerade ball the next evening, they knew that would be the best time to strike.  Danziker knew the vault lay-out from visiting the estate in the past.  Gil’Adan volunteered to act as a landed noble from Glitterhagen with Krogar as his dutiful bodyguard for the evening.  Lars mentioned a distraction would suit them nicely and Danziker confidently said he could handle it.  With a plan in the works, the three set out ready for the job.

It had taken them long into the evening formulating the details of the plan with Lars.  When they exited his estate, the moonlight was shrouded out by a heavy thunderstorm.  The torches that normally lit the streets of Shadow Port flickered as they fought against the rain.  “The Empire’s Blessing, my arse,” Danziker muttered.  Gil’Adan offered to put the two up for the night and they made their way to cloud district.  As they made their way through the rain slick streets, they were stopped suddenly by a large bare chested Half-Orc stepping out from the shadows.

“Evening blokes,” He cracked his knuckles together, “The name’s Bruiser.  Word is you’re after a job.  Hand over your plans if you know what’s good for you. We’ll be taking it from here.  Get ‘em boys.”  At the Bruiser’s words the doors on the balconies above them burst open.  Three pairs of Halfling street scum emerged and began raining a barrage of pebbles down at the adventurers.

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Not happy to be drawn into a trap, Krogar unleashed his katana and charged at Bruiser.  The half-orc wrecker crackled his knuckles and met Krogar head on.  Danziker dodged nimbly out of the way of the falling rocks and jumped into the fight.  As he danced around Bruiser he swung his cutlass across the half-orc’s side and snitched a piece of parchment from his trousers.  The old pirate wasn’t as sly as he thought though and Bruiser noticed, promptly clocking Danziker in the face with a mighty fist.

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Gil’Adan had backed off from the melee and began to pull together his arcane energies.  When two female elven thieves dressed in red leathers and weilding rapiers stepped out menacingly from the side streets, the sorcerer delayed no longer.  Channeling energy through open palm, Gil’Adan let loose a torrent of fire at the newcomers.  The fire caught one of the elves head on.  The other elven thief frantically dodged out of the way, but had the unfortunate luck to jump directly into Krogar.  The fighter twisted and dragged his katana across the elf’s torso.  The remaining elf saw the dire situation her fellow gang members were in and retreated back down the alley.  There was no profit in death and little honor among thieves.

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Danziker started seeing red as the bruiser continued to pummel him with his brass knuckles.  The rogue rolled with the blows as best as he could, but he wasn’t as young as he used to be. “Sink me! Why didn’t we hire a blasted healer?!” Just when the bruiser was ready to land another blow a katana thrust through the half-orc’s chest.  As Bruiser fell to the floor, Krogar assumed a defensive stance to ward off the hail of rocks from above.  Gil’Adan sent a torrent of destructive energy towards the balconies above.  The halflings that had occupied them crashed to the floor, unconscious or dead.

The elven thief Krogar has injured before was sputtering on the floor, weeping for mercy.  “Get up,” Krogar said as he pointed his blood covered blade at his chest.  “Who sent you?  You’ll talk if you know what’s good for you.”

“Please don’t kill me!  Bruiser made us do it!  He got orders and said we needed to follow,”  The elf looked completely over her head.  She pointed to the slip of paper Danziker had in his hand.  The pirate unfurled the note and saw it was signed with only the initial ‘M’.  “Please spare me!  I can help you!”

Sliding his katana up to the elf’s throat, Krogar stated, “You live today.  Your life is mine.”

Danziker was inspecting a fine looking dagger he had picked up from one of the falling halfling thugs and turned towards Krogar. “Are you sure?  We can’t be risking more news of our plan leaking out.  Dead men tell no tales.”

Krogar brushed Danziker off and glared at the elven thief.  “You’ll serve us as we see fit.  Now go tell your friends we are not to be trifled with.”  The elf shakily nodded.  When Krogar sheathed his weapon, he got up and disappeared into the shadows.

Gil-Adan began talking openly about how they would need to change their plans and wait until after the party to make their move.  It took the other two a moment to realize he was speaking loud enough to be within earshot of the fleeing elf in an effort to mislead any informants the elf would report to later.  No one in this town could truly be trusted.  When a few moments past the sorcerer dropped his voice, “Let’s go.  We have work to do.”

Invite
In the morning, Danziker muttered something about needing some tools before departing.  Gil spent his day preparing his character and costume.  When they were ready, Krogar and Gil approached Navelle manor.  When the guard asked for their name and title, Gil proudly proclaimed, “Ser Goldenhair of Glitterhagan.”  The guard checked a list and nodded to another guard.  He came up and wrapped an ornate ribbon around the hilt of Krogar’s blade.  “Its a security measure.  Do not unsheathe your blade, do not break the ribbon, and we got no problems.”

Gil-Adan walked past the gates and Krogar followed.  As they made their way up the hillside to the manor, they barely noticed the shadowy blur of black in the bushes to the left.  Danziker had scaled the wall and was making his way onto the second floor, as per the plan.  As Krogar opened the door for Gil, he gave a curt nod in the rogue’s direction.  In the bushes, Danziker tipped his tricorne hat and quickly made his way up the lattice work to the second floor.

Inside the main ballroom, Gil made his way to the far side of the estate.  The map that Lars had given them showed the fault across a pool in the center of the grounds.  As Gil and Krogar settled themselves near one of the doors awaiting the distraction, a dwarf with a monocle strode up to them followed by a knight in shining armor.  “Good Evening, sir, my name is Marwyn Baran.”  He extended a hand, which Gil took and introduced himself as Lord Goldhair.  “Tell me, Lord, have you heard of the Winter Seal?  I was just telling Sir Ward Rokat here that I was the very one to recover the artifact.  It is a priceless antiquity; Lord Navalle should be very pleased at his possession.”  As Marwyn ranted endlessly about the statue and its history, Krogar kept an eye on the guards outside.  Very soon, the guards would change and Danziker’s distraction should keep them busy.

Upstairs, Danziker had just made his way into Lord Navelle’s private quarters.  While Lars’ map would be handy to most, Danziker already knew his way around the manor.  He had had certain illicit affairs with the Lord’s daughter in the past.  It was from his previous visits to the manor that he knew just the distraction the party needed.  The Lord here liked to keep a locket at his desk as one of many displays of his wealth.  Bloody fool had no idea the locket belonged to the Lich King’s banshees, but Danziker did.  He picked up the locket and grabbed a few of the Lord’s papers from his desk.  Carefully making his way to the window, he leaned out then threw the locket back inside.  It smashed against the wall and a horrible wailing broke outward.  The wail of the banshees continued to echo through the grounds as Danziker leapt out the window to the bushes below.

The entire ballroom was distracted with the unearthly wailing coming from upstairs.  As numerous guests covered their ears, the guards of the chamber and grounds ran to investigate the disturbance.  Krogar tapped Gil on the shoulder and the two quickly made their way on to the grounds and to the vault.  Nobody would blame guests for getting as far from the wailing as possible.  When they got to the vault, they saw two guards posted outside the main doorway.  When one looked away, the other quickly fell to his knees.  Before the guard could turn back, Danziker leapt from the shadows and clubbed him across the head with a sap.

Gil’Adan stopped and looked back to the estate.  If the guards would see anyone near the vault entrance, they would only see a guest waiting for the wailing to cease.  While Krogar propped the two unconscious guards against the vault, Danziker applied his thieves tools to the vault door.  Despite the rogue’s assurances that the vault could be open, he did not seem to have any luck.  Loosing his patience, Krogar shoved Danziker aside and drew upon his experience being raised among a thieves guild to try his luck at the lock.  The doors clicked open just as Danziker’s tools snapped.  Krogar grabbed the weapons off the guards, thinking they may come in handy.  The three made their way inside.  With time bearing down on them, Danziker lead the way and kept his eyes out for traps.  He deftly disabled a spear and dart trap before they found themselves at the main vault room.

TheVault

Sitting in the center of the room was the Winter Seal – A obsidian statue of an owl encrusted with sapphires and rubies.  Gil knew it’s description from Marwyn’s endless blathering.  Danziker made a show of inspecting the room as he surreptitiously made his way to a lockbox bearing the Prince’s seal.  Thinking it may be a gift, he opened it and found an another set of thieves tools.  How the Prince knew Danziker would be needed a new set was a mystery.  Looking back to the pedestal in the center of the room he saw Gil’Adan inspecting the pedastal the seal sat upon.  “There is magic here.  I suspect the pedestal is set to an alarm.  It will take time to disarm this, time I’m afraid we have little of. ”

Krogar carefully walked up to the platform.  “Then we do what we came here to do.  Snatch and Run.”  Before his companions could object, the fighter snatched the statue from the pedestal and ran toward the vault exit.  Several loud bells started ringing as the three made their way out of the vault and on to the grounds.  “This way!” Krogar pointed to the bushes, with Danziker already several steps ahead of them.  They had planned this escape route with the preparations Lars had given them.

Danziker leapt over the wall first and landed on to the cobblestone street.  A twang was all the warning he had before he felt a bolt puncture his calf.  Looking up, he saw three ruffians shrouded in purple cloaks.  Each had a crossbow trained on him.  “Hand over the Winter Seal and nobody gets hurt.”

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Danziker thought fast, “Ye shot me an’ yer claiming nobody will get hurt?!  Yer supposed to be the relief, ye bloody fool!”  When the closest ruffian looked at him confused, Danziker pressed on.  “I wager by the color of yer cloaks that ye be the Purple Lotus clan.  I bet yer were even told to be at this spot to make sure the Prince received the seal.  Listen, the guards will be here any moment.  The Prince needs this statue and yer here to handle the guards.”  The ruffian’s allies lowered the crossbows and looked to their boss.

Before the boss could make sense of what was going on, Krogar and Gil came over the wall.  In the distance, the sound of clanking armor announced the coming of the guards.  Danziker pointed to the purple robed figures, “The Prince be kind enough ta send relief.  Time to make our exit, smartly now!”  The pirate quickly hobbled down the street, cursing the bolt in his leg. 

The lead ruffian shouted out to Danziker but Krogar quickly ran up to him.  The fighter shoved the guards weapons with broken peace ribbons in the leader’s hands.  Whispering, he stated, “The Prince takes care of his own.”  Krogar turned to the oncoming guards who had just spotted them.  “Help!  These men just robbed the manor!”  As Gil and Krogar beat feet after Danziker, Gil uttered a quick thank you to the bewildered rogues.

The leader of the Purple Lotus looked at the oncoming guards and cursed.  If this was a trick, someone would pay dearly for it later… IMG_4181

Gil-Adan, Krogar and Danziker laid low for the evening and most of the next day.  When sundown approached, they carefully made their way back to the Dark Jester Tavern.  True to his word, Samuel Direll was waiting for them in the back room.  “Welcome back.  I understand congratulations are in order.”  He got to his feet and held out his hands.  Danziker reluctantly placed the jewel encrusted statue in his hands.  “Many thanks.  I understand the Purple Lotus may think the Prince owes them a favor?  You’re quite the smooth talker.”

Danziker stretched his arms wide, “I be a captain, afterall.”

Gil-Adan sighed.  “Scallywag, scoundrel, disgraceful knave more like it, but you served your purpose.  We all did.”

Samuel smiled, “Indeed, my employer is pleased.”  Samuel looked at the owl statue again then abruptly smashed it against the table.  He brushed the remains aside and pulled out a small parchment with a map on it.  Gil-Adan caught just enough of the map to make out what he knew to be Necropolis.  How curious.  Samuel pocketed the map and turned to leave.  “You can keep the scraps.  The Prince isn’t interested in that tonight.  He has more interesting plans.  I’ll be in touch.”  With that the tiefling was gone.

Player feedback – “Great game session. Loads of fun!” 

(Sarah)    (Ben)

Custom Pre-Generated Character Sheets 4.0

New adventure = new batch of pre-generated character sheets!

The first custom pre-generated character sheets that we released for Crown of the Lich King worked well for everyone, but some of them were designed to be best utilized by ‘light’ sided characters.  The second batch of pre-generated character sheets that we release for Wyrd of the Wild Wood fit well for players that wanted to chose a darker path such as a prisoner escaping Darkskye.  The third batch of pre-generated character sheets for Quest in the Cathedral introduced some of the optional races in 13th Age and toyed with some unusual class / race combinations.  This set is largely trying out combinations we haven’t used before.  There’s only so many ways you can re-roll a level 2 paladin. 😉

These pre-generated characters are as follows:  Forgeborn Barbarian, Holy One Paladin, High Elf Ranger, Half-Orc Fighter, Draconic Rogue, Demontouched Bard, Dwarf Cleric, Wood Elf Sorcer and Halfling Wizard.

Once again the optional races in 13th Age are used:  Holy One, Demontouched, Forgeborn and Draconic. These four races aren’t necessarily part of the world, but you never know what type of scum is lurking around the corner in Shadow Port.  Even the graceful and noblest of races can fall deep in the red.  Just check with your GM to make sure that an optional race fits in the GM’s vision of the world.

These character sheets are designed with two options: with a blank background or with character art background set at 30% opacity.  Please note that the character artwork is not ours.  Click the links to view all the character sheets.  Examples of the character sheets with background art can be seen below (click to zoom in).  Enjoy!

Halfling Wizard

Halfling Wizard

Demontouched Bard

Demontouched Bard

Half-Orc Fighter

Half-Orc Fighter

High Elf Ranger

High Elf Ranger

Again, the images shown are just a few samples.  Click the links above to retrieve the .pdfs for all the class options.

(Sarah)    (Ben)

Schedule of Events

We hit out 50th post just in time for a new adventure!

Shadow Port Shuffle is the fourth adventure out of a total of thirteen organized play adventures developed by 13th Age.  True to the name, Shadow Port Shuffle takes place in Shadow Port, a smuggler’ haven and pirate resort.  The adventurers each owe a hefty debt to the Prince of Shadows, and he has gathered them together to do a series of jobs for him. Nothing too big: steal this, take that, and don’t get caught. He promises that after completing a series of tasks their debts will be repaid and they will be rewarded for their service.

Each week we run games on Sundays at noon at our friendly local game store: Fair Game in Downers Grove, IL.  An adventure recap will be shared on this blog following each game session.  In addition we will share our activities related to the game; painting miniatures, creating new magic items, mechanic tweaks, home brew rules, etc.  Local to the area and interested in joining our game?  Find out how here!  The schedule is as follows:

The schedule is as follows:

Sunday, January 26th – Part 1 (Deep in the Red)

Sunday, February 2nd – Part 2 (This Place Grows On You)

Sunday, February 9th – Part 3 (The Carnival Caper)

Sunday, February 16th – Part 4 (The Golden Blade and The Kraken)

Sunday, February 23rd – Part 5 (The Big Job)

(Sarah)    (Ben)

Part 6 Recap – Sanctuary

Adventure 6 – Sanctuary

Today would be the day.  The day that their questions would be answered.  Kendall slung his quiver over his shoulder and looked to his traveling companions Braun and Neozama as they prepared their gear.  They were an unlikely lot, but together the wood elf ranger, half-orc rogue and human monk had marched, climbed and fought the Cathedral.  They had encountered bear-monks, riddles, puzzles, traps, militants, zealots and holy fools to name a few.  Now at last they were on the final day of their journey together.  Today they would reach the fabled Oracle.

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And this is what happens when we run games at home… Our cats steal the show. 😉

Braun the rogue was weary from travel, but being so close to the Oracle kept his senses sharp.   As the party continued onward Braun relied on his trap sense to warn his travel companions of dangers as the Cathedral shifted around them.  No matter how the safely the rogue guided them though they always seemed to end up at a dead end.  Even the ranger Kendall was stumped when they party’s path was cut off repeatedly just when they thought a path forward was found.  After an hour the rogue and hunter took a brief rest while Neozama studied the walls.

“Anyone else get the sense that the Cathedral is alive?”, the monk wondered aloud.

Braun scoffed, “Where do you think we are, Scrimhunt Castle?”  He turned to double back only to find a series of stairs heading upward suddenly form behind them.

Kendall stood up and pushed past the rogue.  “The tale of Scrimhunt Castle is a myth.  A story meant to frighten young children.”  A hatch at the end of the small stairs led the party to the outside ledge of the Cathedral  that overlooked the Midland Sea.  The sun was rising over the east and sunlight spread over the marbled walls of the cathedral.  The party could see for miles, all the way out to the storm clouds gathering over Omen.  “My gods, I had no idea we were this high.  But how do we get up?  I don’t see any way back in but the way we came.”

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6.2 – Scaling the Cathedral

Neozama joined Kendall on the ledge and studied their surroundings.   After a moment he pointed to a ledge that wound up around the outside of the Cathedral walls.  “There, we climb up and hope to find a way in.”  Braun cracked his knuckles, eager for a challenge.  He had spent a good deal of time scaling building faces before to find items of interest, this shouldn’t be any different.  Some of his most prosperous heists were from Horizon.  Few of the wealthy citizens of Horizon had bothered with locks when their building could float in the air.  What fools they had been.  With great skill Braun led his fellow pilgrims along the ledge, pointing out handholds and warning of obstacles.  Several times the party had to press themselves flat against the Cathedral walls and let a gust of cold air pass.  It was rough business and Kendall nearly fell twice, but was saved by a quick grab from Neozama and Braun.  Eventually the party rounded a corner into a pocket of calm air where two roof lines meet. There, perched on a wide ledge, was a tent.

A red-robed priest with equally vibrant red hair sat just outside the tent, staring into the Cathedral through a window.  Neozama cleared his throat and the Priest turned with a start.  “Oh my, guests!  I do not see many folks out here except for my brothers.  I am Father Flambo, a Brother of the Flame Eternal.”  The priest stood and disappeared into his tent, only to reappear a moment later with a pot of simmering stew.   “Care to join me for a meal?”

Still thinking the man quite odd, Kendall carefully sat down near the priest.  “Err, why are you outside the Cathedral this high up?  One misstep out here would be fatal.”

“Oh, certainly.”  Father Flambo eagerly dished out stew into four small bowls. “But the study of Cathedromancy is a perilous ordeal after all.  I would be a fool not to expect challenges in my pursuit of enlightenment.”

Braun’s face twisted, confused, “Enlightenment found on a ledge 100 leagues in the sky?”

The red-robed priest laughed, “Of a sort, yes.  Nobody knows much about how the Cathedral was made, you see.  All most people know is that the Archmage and Priestess were involved in building it and the Gods of Light wove their will into the structure as well.  My brothers and I believe that by studying every inch of the Cathedral, we may be able to catch a small glimpse of the Divine.”  Flambo smiled, obviously proud of his divine mission.  “I myself have been charting the upper reaches, careful to observe and not participate as much as possible.”

“Tell me, Father, what have you learned recently?”  Neozama hoped the eccentric man may be helpful beyond offering a pot of stew.

“Information beyond measure.  Perhaps you have noticed in your travels the Cathedral shifting?  A wall or two moving around is not unheard of, but I have observed entire domains restructured recently.  The realm of Lenwe, god of illusion, was brought all the way up here from the sixth floor, for reasons unknown.  I’d wager the gods know something we do not.”

Kendall set his bowl down, “Sage wisdom.  Well, we must be going.  We’re seeking the Oracle, you see, and need a way back inside the Cathedral.”

Father Flambo smiled, “Ah, you’ll be looking for the Oraculum Delubrum Scriptor then.  Two stories up, just past the realm of Vishmilla.  Beware her nuns, they are feisty.  I can let you in through the window here.”  The trio thanked the man for the stew and help then climbed in through the large window, happy to be indoors again.

SymbolLenway

6.3 – The Cathedral Shifts

The cathedral continued to rearrange itself as before, and this time clearly leaving one singular path for the pilgrims to follow.  They finally came to a room with the figure of two masks on the silver door, one smiling and the other crying.  “Oh great, don’t tell me – this is the God of the Theatre, isn’t it?” Braun joked.  “Will we have to recite a monologue in order to pass?”  Kendall smiled at the thought of this Half Orc trying to enact drama, then pushed the door open.

The room within was oval in structure with several large pillars supporting the large domed ceiling.  Hanging along the walls and on several pillars, several masks could be seen.  As Neozama took a cautious step within, he heard the rustling of leaves and a large treant shuffled around one of the larger pillars.  The groaning of its wooden frame sounded like growling as its limbs reshaped into fists.  Wordlessly, it charged the pilgrims, slamming in Neozama with massive force.  Braun quickly dashed aside in a twirl of shadows and Kendal fired several bolts into the treant’s form.

As Neozama struggled to ward off the treant’s blows, Braun took a moment to think in the shadows.  Thinking there must be something to do with the masks on the walls, he reappeared near one of the masks and quickly put it on.  When he looked up, he barely had enough time to duck as a massive gore covered skeleton had appeared in front of him and started attacking with sharpened bony arms.  He cried out in pain as the skeleton scored a vicious strike.

Neozama spared a glance toward’s Braun’s cry and saw the rogue bleeding and trying to dodge some unseen foe.  The monk quickly broke free from the treant and went to aid his friend.  As he did so, a large winged demon stepped out from the farthest pillar and launched a sizzling bolt of flame squarely at the Monk’s chest.  ‘What God keeps a treant, a skeleton, and a demon all in the same room?’ he thought as he changed direction to attack the demon.

Kendall saw fired two bolts into the treant, satisfied to see it fall.  As it hit the floor however, the ranger was confused to see it shatter into a blood smeared pile of masonry that made up the pillars of the room.  Braun continued to fight some unseen enemy, but Kendall noted the rogue was wearing one of the masks.  The elf snatched a rogue from the wall and put it on, seeing not one but two figures now attacking the rogue: The skeleton was now joined by a small goblin riding a large spiked turtle.  Kendall recalled his clerical training and quickly muttered a prayer of healing for Braun.

As the rogue’s wounds knitted back together, he finally managed to slide his dagger into the skeleton’s skull.  The undead creature let out a wail of horror then slammed against the wall.  A wave of light and the skeletal form was replaced with a section of wall that was propped up by two broken tracks along the floor.  Braun turned just in time to see Neozama strike his fist into the demon, and with a wave of light it turned into a pedestal carrying a nail launcher.  “Its all an illusion!  This must be Lenwe’s domain!”

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The thud of two arrows announced the goblin’s death as it crashed over, turning into another crumbled pillar.  The light continued to ripple outward, revealing the room’s contents for what it really was.  They could now see the shattered remnants of pillars, walls, and various construction tools that were all on moving tracks along the floor.  Throughout the entire room, however, were dead orcs, all victims of Lenwe’s trap.  The smear of blood carried out the door and into the hallway beyond – Apparently some orcs had made it through.

“If the orcs are going up as well, the Oracle is in danger,”  Neozama realized.  “We must hurry, we can’t let the orcish hordes have access to the Oracle’s prophetic visions.”  With renewed vigor, the pilgrims rushed forward.

SymbolDelaine

6.4 – Pipes of Maddened Love

The Cathedral’s shifting had slowed for some reason.  They did not find a single obstacle in their way until they reached a large bright pink door, the center of which bore two hearts pressed together.  Braun thought twice to make another joke about a god and carefully opened the door.  Within, they found a large room with fourteen sides and a single stand in the center of the room.  Upon the stand and running down into the floor was a collection of pipes.

The three of them saw no way out, so they went to inspect the pipes in the center of the room.  Music began to drift out from the center of the room, masking the sound of the door behind them closing and locking.  The melody drifted pleasantly throughout the room, and none of them could detect anything sinister about the machine.

A single thought entered Neozama’s mind: Braun won’t ever love you if Kendall is still in the way.  The monk instantly knew it to be true and turned to his ranger companion.  Kendall stood there, bow drawn, aimed directly at Neozama’s chest.  “You aren’t worthy enough of Braun!” Kendall shouted, “You’ll die here today!”  He loosed the arrow at Neozama who hastily dodged and charged the elf.

As the monk slammed his staff against Kendall’s skull, Braun realized a stark truth about their world: Not a single person is worthy of your masculine prowess and beauty.  The rogue sneered at the two unworthy cretins in the room with him and twisted into shadow.  As the monk and ranger continued to trade blow for blow, the rogue took his time to line up his attack.  When the time was right, Braun reappeared behind Neozama and drive his dagger into his friend’s back.

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The monk turned and looked back at Braun smiling at his masterful strike.  He shook his head and realized the music was making them all do this!  Neozama quickly dropped into a fluid stance and dodged around Braun and Kendal to reach the machine.  Neozama slammed his staff against the pipes, making them produce a wrenching sound in their notes.  Kendal and Braun both winced in pain, the rogue blinding charging ahead at Neozama.  Kendal shook his head and realized what was going on.  Seeing Braun started to recover, the ranger quickly shot two arrows into the pipes, fouling the music it created.

Braun stopped mid stroke from bringing his dagger into Neozama’s gut, the spell broken.  Sheepishly, he sheathed his dagger.  “Err, sorry about that.” Braun looked to the machinery again, “Gods do I wish to be done with Gods.”  Braun twisted a piece of the pipe and was happy to see a hidden door open up on the far side of the room.  The three of them quickly exited, eager to leave the treacherous room.

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6.5 – The wrestling nuns of Vishmilla

A few hallways later they found themselves in front of a stone door with the picture of a strong woman wrestling a gargantuan ant.  As Braun touched the door he felt a small shock of electricity jump out out to his fingers.  Kendall saw this and said, “Vishmalla, no doubt.  Her priests occasionally travel to the Wild Woods to find large beasts to wrestle.  It typically doesn’t end well for them.”  Kendall knocked an arrow, “Best be armed, Father Flambo said they were a feisty lot.”

As Neozama opened the door, he found a curious room.  The marble floor of the cathedral had been broken apart in the center and carved into a large earthen pit.  A large barbarian woman was wrestling a celestial ant the size of a full grown man.  The woman twisted and pinned the beast to the floor where it dissipated in a burst of white energy.  Another woman approached, “Welcome!  The nuns of Vishmilla welcome you to the proving grounds.”

Neozama raised an eyebrow, “Proving Grounds?  What do we need to prove?”

The nun placed her fists on her hips and proudly stated, “You need to prove your strength and skill in combat.  Any that want to proceed must do honor by Vishmalla in a test of strength.  There are three of you and three of us Nuns here.  Perfect match.”  The two nuns behind her cracked their knuckles and smiled.  It seemed they were excited for an opportunity for new contestants.

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The pilgrims agreed and moved toward the pit in the center of the chamber.  The three nuns took to the opposite end and said a short prayer honoring Vishmilla.  When they finished their chant, they charged with a furious cry.  The nuns crashed against the pilgrims unleashing a deadly series of kicks and jabs.  Neozama was used to training alongside unarmed warriors and felt a thrill at facing an equal opponent.  The monk traded blow for blow with two of the nuns, careful to avoid her grapples.

Kendal was not so lucky, quickly succumbing to the Nun’s barrage of attacks.  Before he knew it the nun had the ranger in a headlock, twisted him up in the air, then slammed him back on the floor.  Dazed, the ranger was saved by the quick intervention of Braun as he reappeared from the shadows to attack the nun.  A decisive blow was followed by two arrows and the nun collapsed to the floor, raising her hands in surrender.  Braun and Kendal ran to Neozama’s aid.

Neozama had managed to deflect some of the Nun’s attacks, but was suffering from the assault.  He landed a solid kick against the larger nun but had left himself open to a grapple from the other.  As the two wrestled against each other, Braun finished the first nun off.  Kendall quickly fired two arrows at the Nun’s back, who quickly realized her defeat and surrendered.  The three nuns all collected themselves then congratulated the pilgrims for their show of strength.  “Vishmilla praises your strength and has found you worthy.  You may proceed onward.  Vishmilla watch over you.”

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6.6 – The Oraculum Delubrum Scriptor

The door from Vishmilla’s realm lead immediately to a flight of stairs leading upward.  “Father Flambo said it was only two stories up.  The Oraculum must be close.”  Kendal was getting anxious, he had hoped the Oracle was safe.  At the landing atop the stairs they were horrified at the hallway before them.  Numerous guards and orc bodies littered the hallway leading up to a once beautiful oaken door.  Blood smeared the floors and walls and the door was cracked in on itself.  A scream echoed out from within.

Neozama rushed forward with Kendal and Braun hot on his heels.  As the trio pushed past the shattered remains of the door, they found a room open to the outside air, a single peninsula of raised stone reaching out into the morning sky.  Atop the stone outcropping a portal was being held open flanked by four orc archers.  A fierce looking orc warrior near the portal was holding a woman by the arm and barking orders to the rest of the orcs at the landing.  The leader saw the pilgrims entered and roared out a command to the rest of the orcs.

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Braun winked into the shadows, knowing he had the best chance of rescuing the Oracle.  Kendall fired two perfect shots at the first wave of orcs, hitting them right between the eyes.  As the two fell, Neozama moved to engage three more.  The monk quickly defeated a nasty looking berserker, delivering a sharp kick to the orc’s face.  The orcs fought back viciously, concentrating their efforts on holding the pilgrims back.  The archers near the portal all raised their bow and let loose a volley at Neozama and Kendall, but missed every shot.

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Seeing his front line failing, the leader reached to his bracer and began fiddling with the runes to control the portal.  He had no time to react when Braun reappeared behind him and sank his blade into the orc’s back.  Furious, the leader threw the woman aside and attacked Braun with full force.  The rogue took most of the blow, rolling away before springing back for a second trike.  When the orcs nearest the portal noticed their line had been broken two of them retreated through the portal.  The two remaining orc archers stood their ground and redirected their shots towards Braun.

Neozama made a sweeping blow with his staff, knocking the warriors around him back.  Seeing the orcs caught off balance, Kendal tapped into his limited magical ability and unleashed a bright chain of lightning at the front line.  The already wounded orcs were electrocuted instantly, eight of them falling before the unexpected torrent of energy.  With only the leader left, Neozama sprinted to the leader.  As Braun struck the leader, Neozama joined with a deadly flying kick to the leader’s head.

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The orc commander fell to the floor, but not before activating a final set of runes on his bracer.  The portal exploded outward in a shockwave of purple energy, knocking everyone to the floor.  When the trio stood up, they found no trace of the portal.  The woman was lying on the floor, but slowly regained her footing.

“Braun, Kendall, Neozama.  I thank you for saving my life.”

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Neozama brushed the dirt from his robes, “Of course.  You are the Oracle I take it?”

The woman sheepishly lowered her face, “Sadly, no.  My name is Serena, a handmaiden to the Oracle.  The Oracle was taken, as she knew she would be.”  Serena looked to the three adventurers, “She asked that I hide when peril would come and deliver a message to Braun, Kendall, and Neozama.”

Kendall gasped, “She knew?!  She knew and did nothing to save herself?”

“Yes.  The Oracle is tied closing to the fate of our world.  She tries with all her might to resist changing it.”  Serena looked out to the horizon.  “She asked me to deliver a message to you.  She is taken by the Orc Lord and will require rescue before he unleashes horrible destruction across the Empire.  You three shall be the ones to rescue her.”

The party paused and looked at each other.  Neozama was the one to break the silence, “How?  Where will we find her?”

“You must find her yourself.  She would not tell me where she was, only that you must find her.  Please, for the safety of the Empire, you must bring her back to safety.”

Neozama closed his eyes, “We must do as we must.  That much is true, this seems to be our destiny.”  The monk looked to his two companions.

Kendall offered a small smile, “Well, if this is a search and rescue mission you will need a ranger.”

Braun considered for a moment.  “These days I serve the Emperor.  I sought the Oracle to find traitors in his ranks, but instead I found an even greater threat.  The Orc Lord must be stopped.  I couldn’t think of a better pair of adventurers to accompany me with.”

(Sarah)    (Ben)

Part 3 – 5 Recap – Strange Ways

GM Note – Due to scheduling restrictions, I had to condense adventures 3-5 into one mega session.  What follows are the highlights of each session.  I could not pass up the awesome trap room of the All-Mother in session three, or the storyline of Hayot and Saru in session four.  I was eager to incorporate the connection to Darkskye and Jont Urner so you will see story elements from there as well.  The order of events is a departure from the written adventure. 

The heavy iron doors closed behind them, sealing away The Victor’s realm.  Patches had decided to stay with the Victor in hopes that the God may help him on his quest for justice.  Kendal sighed sadly; he was just getting to like the big brute.  As he glanced back, he thought he heard the sounds of battle echoing from beyond the doorway.  If there was any place for Patches to find fulfillment, it would be by the Victor’s side at least.  The ranger turned to address those of his party that remained, “Come, we keep moving.  The Oracle awaits.”

SymbolLifewarden3.6 – Path of Life

The stairways seem to wind up more than a single level.  The walls of the stairwell had a variety of different paintings, each depicting different individual at different stages of their life.  The adventurers were so concerned with making their way through the Cathedral they did not stop to admire the artwork that surrounded them.  When they reached the next door, the adventurers found it constructed of ivory bordered in reddened copper.  Braun traced his finger across the smooth surface, finding the faint image of a woman walking toward the horizon on it.  The rogue’s fingers twitched at the thought of how much gold such a finely constructed door could fetch.  Before the rogue could ponder the thought further Neozama reached forward and pushed the doorway open.

An older comforting voice drifted outward, “Welcome travelers.  I am the All-Mother.  I guard the way onwards.  If your hearts are pure you may proceed with my blessing.  Come, walk the path of life with me.”  A rush of air and a blinding light engulfed them and the party found themselves in a large octagonal room, dripping with blood.  Trained with inner tranquility, Neozama was the first in the party calm enough to study the room.  The walls were slowly contracting inward.  Gifted with keen eyesight, Kendall was first to spot the door in the distance and alert the others.  All three of the adventurers rushed forward, Braun readying his tools should they need it as they ran.  As the walls threaten to close completely on them, Braun hastily pulled the door open.  Another rush of air and light engulfed them.

The Half-Orc still had his thief’s tools in hand as he took stock of his new surroundings.  The party was in another octagonal room, this time with the statue of a stern woman holding her finger admonishingly.  The walls of the room each had a collection of figures all in movement marching counter-clockwise around the room, all of which looked anywhere but at the statue.  Kendall took a step as he looked around the room and quickly flung his hands against the sides of his head in pain.  When Braun went to help her up, he too doubled over in pain.  Neozama froze where he stood and looked again at the paintings, “Neither of you move.  The figures are all walking counter-clockwise.”  Neozama carefully made a step mimicking the painting’s direction and felt nothing.  The monk carefully continued until he made a full circle of the room and vanished.  Braun and Kendall shook their pain off and did the same, finding themselves transported to a doorway looking in to another octagonal room.

The next octagonal room had a statue in each of the eight corners.  Each statue held a variety of items that matched their outfit.  A warrior held an axe, a scholar read a book, a farmer wielded a scythe, a regal king bore a crown, a priestess brandished a symbol of the All-Mother, a brigand held a coin in his fingers, an explorer held a map, and a mage gestured a wand in the air.  A lone empty pedestal sat in the center of the room, with a gentle light illuminating it.  Kendall noticed a plaque reading ‘Find Your Place’.  The hunter turned to tell the others what the plaque read, but as she turned she saw Braun trying to snatch the Crown off the king statue’s head.  As the greedy rogue touched the crown he was lifted magically off his feet and pulled back toward the center pedestal.  The light from above turned dark red and Braun again cried out in pain.  Kendall helped the half-orc rogue down, “I think you need to find something that fits with you.  And I don’t think you very kingly.”  Neozama walked over to the scholar and removed the book from the statue’s hands.  The monk was lifted to the center pedestal and vanished.  Braun settled on the coin, while Kendall took the map.  In a blink they found themselves in the next room.

The PathKendall sighed, “You would think the architects here would get tired of building Octagonal rooms.”  Despite the ranger’s exasperation, he could not help but feel a sense of calm permeating the air.  The light was warm and comforting and the scent reminded him of the wilds.  Braun carefully did not move or touch anything, instead scanning the room with a trained eye.  He noted the multitude of hand-prints covering the walls, but also the tracks of foot prints in the dust on the floor.  The foot prints mostly went around the edges of the room, but several seemed to walk into the center of the room and stop in smudges as if they fell down.  Carefully, the rogue placed his hands along the walls and inched his way around the circumference of the chamber, finally reaching a previously hidden door on the other side.  Kendall and Neozama followed his lead, and together they all three pushed the door open.

Darkness crowded the lone candle in this chamber, stretching shadows against the wall.  From what the party could make out, a statue of an angel bore the candle in the air, and numerous collections of tombstones, bones, and mementos of the dead littered the chamber.  Braun whispered darkly, “I know you won’t often here a rogue say this, but stay in the light.  Trust me.”  Carefully, the three made their way across the room.  As they passed the candle, the shadows shifted around them and dark spectral claws lashed out at them from the darkness.  Kendall and Neozama were wracked with pain but Braun nimbly dodged away and toward the next door.  He noticed a small plague on this side of the angel reading ‘Loss is unavoidable, and all paths must end.’

As they pushed their way through the door, they expected to face another series of traps.  Instead they were greeted with an entirely empty and well light chamber.  A voice filled the empty chamber “You have walked my Path of Life and have not been found wanting.  Step into the light and continue your journey.”  The floor shimmered with a soft white light, solidifying into a solid platform.  The three of them climbed aboard and were lifted up to the ceiling, which faded away in ripples like water.  Bright light blinded them and a heavy wind brushed against them.  As their sight adjusted, the found themselves looking out into a giant cavity in the Cathedral.

SymbolHyot4.2 – Riddles in the Sky

They could see part of the Cathedral below them, connected by four towering spires, the larger part of the Cathedral above.  The spire they were next to had a doorway identical to the ivory door they saw earlier.  Kendal gazed across at the other spires, and saw that one of them had another door.  Floating in the air between them and the other spires were numerous floating islands, mostly made up of bits of Cathedral masonry and rock.  Several of them drifted lazily about, and Neozama spotted a few priests and monks meditating on their surface.  For a second, he envied them for such a prime meditation spot.

Braun smiled and looked about at the islands.  “I’ve handled worst obstacles than this.  A few months back, I broke into a lord’s floating estate in Horizon.  Easy job.”  He looked about then leapt across the gap toward the nearest island.  He skillfully managed to leapfrog his way across the gap, closing in on the far off spire.  In a short time, he had made his way to the landing.

Neozama took a moment to steady himself and attempted to do the same.  He made it several islands across before misjudging a leap and crashing hard against the edge of a rock.  The monk on this island cheerfully reached a hand toward Neozama and pulled him back up.  Neozama recognized the symbol on the monk’s robes: broken wavy lines like an earthquake.  “You’re a priest of Hayot.  God of Tests and Trials?”  The monk silently nodded then resumed her meditation.  As Neozama made to leap to the next island, he heard the woman clear her throat.  Neozama looked back and the monk jerked her head in the direction of another island that offered a better route.

In several leaps, Neozama made it to the landing.  He made it just in time to hear a loud screech accompanied by the frenzied beating of wings.  He turned to see Kendal being born across the gap by a large eagle, gently dropping her down on the landing.  When Neozama asked why the ranger did not offer that in the first place, the ranger shrugged.  “You both leapt off to your near deaths before I could say a word.”  Kendal rubbed the eagle’s beak before feeding it a treat from his pouch.  “I knew this helpful fellow was local and willing to aid us.  As the royal handler of the High Druid’s beasts, animals often can aid me when in need.  We share a special connection.”  Kendall ruffled the eagle’s feathers and sent the beast on his way.

As they moved toward the door, they noticed an elderly old man sitting cross legged in front of it.  Braun tilted his head to Kendall, “When did he get here?  I’m not crazy, he wasn’t there right?”  Kendall shrugged.  The man opened his eyes and looked at the three pilgrims.

“Guests!  Oh how we do miss guests up here.  Hayot told me you were on your way.”  He offered a wide smile before standing up shakily, “Hayot has given me a vision, you see.  You are needed above but need to gather some items for your duties.”  The elderly man was walking between the three of them, looking them over.  Neozama was just about to ask what he meant when he eagerly stated, “You’ll need a pendant with a crane on it, a token of a hero, a piece of foundation from the Cathedral and a lock of hair from the trickster-god Saru.  Just bring those to me and I’ll grant you a boon to help you along your way.”  Without another word the man stepped off the side of the landing and onto a rising island.  The island lifted upward and shot away, ascending high along the Cathedral face, the man smiling broadly and waving goodbye.

Braun shook his head, “I could do with less crazy people in this cathedral.”

SymbolPaceri4.3 – Dreams of Death

The doorway led to a winding stairway that took them up the spire onto another level of the Cathedral.  Eventually the three found themselves in front of a door that seemed to be made up of a metal with swirling clouds under its surface.  Affixed in the center was a crane with his head pointed toward the sky.  Opening the door revealed two circular rooms connected to each other, lined with numerous private rooms, and a variety of comfortable couches and pillows scattered about.  Several different priests bearing the symbol of the crane sat listening to visitors describe their confusing dreams.

A short rotund dwarf approached the trio, “Welcome to Paceri’s domain, goddess of rest and dreams.”  The dwarf gestured to the couches behind him, “Please, stay a while and relax.  If you like, we will offer dream interpretation in exchange for a small donation to Paceri.” Braun looked at the bulging coin purse on the dwarf’s belt, thinking they must run a profitable service here.  Looking toward a nearby end table, he saw a very elegant pendant with the image of a bronze crane on it.  Carefully, he sauntered over and pocketed it.  They could stand to give a little to the needy, and Braun thought himself very needy.

Kendall and Neozama were moving through the room, inspecting their surroundings.  A rest may be nice, but Neozama would not be seeking interpretation.  His dreams of the Great Gold Wyrm should only be shared with the Oracle until he could make any more sense of them.  As Kendall made to sit down on a particularly fluffy couch, a crash echoed from the other side of the chamber.  A young priest with a symbol of an eight sided die on his chest burst into the chamber.  “RUN!  The ritual has gone horribly wrong!”  Nobody had any time to react before a collection of skeletons and zombies crashed into the chambers.

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Braun flung his cloak around him, vanishing into shadows.  He would strike when the time was right.  As Kendal barked out orders to the frightened visitors, he loosed three arrows towards the undead.  Neozama rushed forward and readied his three-section-staff, determined to hold the undead back.  The hail of arrows from Kendall managed to destroy several of the skeletons in short order.  Two of the larger embalmed dead engaged the monk, attacking with decaying swords.  As Neozama began to feel overwhelmed, he saw the glint of Braun’s dagger emerge from one of the zombie’s throats.  The monk seized the opportunity to drive a kick into the remaining zombie.  Together the monk and rogue made quick work of the undead.

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The young priest from before came forward, barely stopping himself from shaking.  “I am so sorry.  I am a priest of Apmylos and was performing the last rites in the funeral chamber down the hall.  My work was interrupted when something large and green crashed through the chamber, sending all my instruments into disarray.  Before I knew it, the dead within the chamber were rising around me.”  The priest thought a moment, “Apymlos’ teachings tell us to honor the dead and those that safeguard our passage to the beyond.  I would be honored if you assist me in the last rites for my charge.”

Kendall had limited experience with the priestess, but he knew that the priests of Apymlos were held in high regard for the service to the dead.  To be granted such a high role in a ritual like this was an honor.   The ranger pressed his hand to his chest, “We would happily perform this honor.  Please lead the way, we will do whatever we can to aid you.”  Braun thought first to object, but thought he might find an item or two of interest among the dead.

SymbolApmylos5.2 – Jont Urner’s Funeral

The funeral chamber was not far down the hallway.  Within, there was a single body of a half-orc bearing tattoos all over his body.  “His name was Jont Urner.  He was famous throughout the Empire, an explorer of sorts.”  Braun looked in awe at the passed adventurer.  Most Half-Orcs knew of Jont Urner, he had been a paragon of the adventuring spirit.  Solemnly, Braun offered to be one of the pall bearers.  Surprised at the change of character in the rogue, Neozama and Kendall also offered their services.  The priest readily accepted their offers of aid.  “His last wish was to be returned to the divine earth, amid the Taramann’s fields above.”

The four of them each took a handle of the carrier for Jont’s body and carried it out into the hall.  They were surprised to see a large collection of people waiting to begin the precession.  They priests of Hayot, the Victor, Droga, Gorgeth, and more.  Numerous adventurers of a variety of age and race lined the hallway, and more than a few public figures attended as well.  They all had come to bid one final farewell to Jont Urner and a token of respect to his legacy.  Slowly, they carried the hero’s body through the cathedral halls.  Several priests opened the doors of their domain to honor the dead as they passed, and gentle songs drifted through the chambers.

SymbolTaramann5.3 – Glass and Grass

When they ascended the final stairwell, they approached a chamber of equal size to the Victor’s.  This was not battlefield however; it was lined with rolling mounds of dirt dotted with an endless variety of grain and grass.  The walls of the cathedral had been replaced with large elaborate windows depicting farmers, bakers, families and children all honoring the blessings they were given.  The priests of Taramann, god of grass and bountiful fields, all stood in reverence for Jont’s procession as he was brought to rest in a tomb carved into the earth in the center of the chamber.  As a priest of Ampylos said the last words to seal the hero’s soul to the beyond, the earth closed in on itself, sealing Jont’s body back to the earth.

As the funeral attendees began to disperse, Kendall moved toward one of the large windows overlooking Santa Cora and beyond.  Looking south, she could see the vast untamed Wild Wood and floating above it, the island of Darkskye.  Braun moved to join her, eager for some company after such a solemn affair.  Kendall looked to her fellow pilgrim, “He’ll be well cared for here.  It was an honor to have helped such a great man be put to rest.”

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Braun nodded his head and was scanning the horizon, when his eyes went wide.  Kendall followed the rogue’s eyes and saw a red winged blue crash into Darkskye.  Whatever it was, it was massive if they could see it from this distance.  A few seconds later, a brilliant purple light exploded out from the island, sending a shockwave of energy traveling in its wake.  The shockwave ripped across the Wild Wood, over the plans and then through Santa Cora.  Kendall screamed for everyone to take cover as the shockwave slammed against the Cathedral’s face.  The large glass windows shattered inward, huts collapsed, and crystal debris was flung everywhere.  What was once a peaceful place descended into chaos.

Neozama had been standing outside a small shed when the shockwave hit.  After regaining his feet, he hurriedly began trying to rescue those trapped under the debris.  Braun had run to Jont’s burial site and began to rally people together in the clearing.  Seeing several farm animals running wild, Kendall quickly went to help.  Using her skills learned as the High Druid’s animal keeper, she calmed the beasts into submission.  When the purple cloud from the shockwave had settled, the party saw the complete destruction around them.  Numerous priests and citizens were all trying to regain themselves after the shockwave hit.

“We have to get these people to safety.  The healing pools toward the bottom of the Cathedral will help them.”  Neozama was trying to corral the wounded together.  “They need to get help and soon.”

“That may be a problem.”  Braun gestured to the doorway where they had come through.  Large marble stonework from the Cathedral had moved and closed over the doorway.  As they watched, masonry continued to move around the now-shattered windows to provide more support.  “The Cathedral apparently takes care of itself.  In so doing, it hasn’t taken care of us though.”

Kendall grabbed hold of a nearby priest, “Do you know of another way downward in the Cathedral?  We need to get these people to safety.”

The priest shakily replied, “That was the only way down I know of.”  As the adventurers looked around in despair, the priest quickly added, “If its safety you need, Thorodin’s realm is the best place to go.  His is the realm of the builders and safe harbor, one flight up.”

Neozama looked around at those terrified refugees around him.  “It is the best chance we have.  Braun, Kendall, let’s get everyone moving.”  With some doing, they were each able to get the sixty or so refugees together.  Instructing them to take only what they needed, the adventurers guided the mob upwards into the Cathedral.

SymbolGaaslaanian5.5 – Tail of the Scorpion

The journey through the now-shifting and damaged Cathedral walls was not without peril.  The dust had collected into bizarre crystalline structures which exploded when refugees came nearby.  Several died before they had learned to avoid the crystals.  In addition, the cathedral was hastily rearranging itself to bolster its supports.  Moving walls, pillars, and doorways slammed into several of the refugees, tragically taking the lives of the wounded.  Most of the Gods’ domains they passed had doors sealed shut, barred from entry.  One, however, stood open, its door bearing the tail of two scorpions forming a heart.  When the cathedral shifted and closed off the hallway, it became clear that the only way to proceed was through the door.

As they entered, they found a room full of shards of shattered glass, cracked statues, and all of it covered in sand.  One of the priests nearby fearfully grabbed hold of Kendall’s arm, “This is the realm of Gaaslan, He Who Smites the Wicked.”  When Kendall explained that he was not a wicked man, the priest shook his head.  “All are wicked in Gaaslan’s eyes.  His followers are the most zealous, the most eager to destroy any trace of evil in the hearts of men.”  As he finished speaking, several of the nearby refugees screamed out, holding freshly bleeding wounds that had appeared along their bodies as if they were ripped.  Drops of their blood fell to the floor and combined with the sand to create wicked looking Scorpions.

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Neozama quickly interposed himself between the scorpions and the refugees, trying to hold them back.  Nimbly dodging the blows, he returned the attacks with punches and kicks.  Braun was readying himself to vanish when a whip lashed out and wrapped around his arm.  Looking to one of the statues, a robed figure bearing a whip and sickle smiled gleefully at him, “The wicked must be punished.”  The rogue twisted and charged the man, eager to end his life.  Kendall quickly took charge of the situation, guiding the refugees through the sand filled chamber toward the next doorway.  As he raced along, he fired shot after shot at the scorpions.  Once through the doorway, the ranger turned to assess where his companions were.

Neozama had ditched the two scorpions and was aiding Braun in fighting the zealot.  The rogue dodged under the zealot’s sickle and sank his blade into his back.  The zealot cried out and conjured more scorpions to attack the wicked trespassers.  Neozama was happy to see one of Kendall’s arrows bury into a nearby scorpion.  Seeing the pilgrims safe across the chamber, the monk and rogue delivered one joint blow the zealot, sending him crashing to the floor.  As more scorpions began to rise from the sand, the two bid a hasty retreat out of the chamber into the hallway with the rest of the refugees.  Kendal slammed the door shut, grateful they had kept the remaining pilgrims safe.

SymbolThorodin5.4 – Thorodin’s Bridge

With Gaaslan’s realm behind them, they found the flight of stairs reaching the next floor.  A large stonework door opened to reveal a large void within the Cathedral spanned by a long stone bridge.  The void was impossibly deep given the cathedral’s size, stretching far below into darkness as if into a chasm to the earth.  At the other end of the bridge,a glowing archway stood resolute. Chanting filled the chamber in a dwarven tongue.  Neozama had studied the language in the last as a scribe and translated it for his companions “Thorodin, god of stone, builders, and safe harbor, guide the home.”

Braun moved forward on to the bridge, satisfied with its strong construction and could see no threat in the darkness below.  “Come on, let’s get these people to safety.”  Eagerly, the rogue lead the way across the bridge, followers in tow.  As they reached halfway across, a tremor ripped through the Cathedral and pieces of the bridge began to break away and fall into the depths below.  It seems the Cathedral’s restructuring of itself had damaged the bridge.  “RUN!”

Braun quickly ushered the pilgrims across, making sure to spot the way for them and avoid any weak spots.  Kendall and Neozama pulled up the rear, racing across the crumbling bridge.  As they neared the end, the bridge gave way under Neozama.  As the monk fell into darkness, Kendall thought fast and flung a rope down to him. Neozama barely grabbed hold of the rope and was pulled up to safety.  The refugees had all seemed to make it across, and one by one were now walking through the glowing threshold to safety.

As Neozama slumped down on to the floor, a priest of Taramann approached with a small satchel, “I wanted to thank you for seeing us to safety.”  She opened the satchel showing a collection of potions and elixirs, “You will need these more than we will  Someone needs to see if the Oracle is safe after that shockwave hit us.”  Grateful, the monk nodded and took the gift.  It would indeed prove useful in their journey.  When the last of the refugees walked through the portal, it shrank back and was replaced by a solid stone door.  Braun picked up a small piece of stone from the floor, remembering Hayot’s request. The stone must be ancient, it would suffice.

SymbolSaru4.6 – Treasured Laughter

The stone door led to a small hallway with a golden door at its end.  Braun went to admire the door but when he touched it, he was saddened to see golden paint wipe away on his fingers.  As he removed more paint, he found the image of a ripe fruit split open.  “What god are we facing now?”  Neozama wondered aloud before pushing the door open.  Inside, they found an odd collection of statues of large exotic birds and moving paintings of monkeys changing between poses.

The center of the room was raised and as they neared it, they heard a voice yell out, “How DARE YOU profane the temple of Saur on his holy day?!?! Guardians!  Attack!”  Two of the larger bird statues came to life, spreading their wings threateningly.  As the large birds charged forward, the adventurers moved to meet them.

Braun reached for his dagger but found it missing, looking backwards he saw another bird holding its dagger in its beak.  “Hey!”  When the bird was caught, it dropped the dagger and made a squawking noise akin to laughter.  Braun snatched the dagger back ready to defend himself, but the bird kept laughing, now joined by laughter drifting from behind a nearby wall.

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Neozama was engaged with the two larger birds, trying to defend himself.  After dodging a blow he felt his foot slip on what looked like a banana peel.  The monk crashed to the floor but he continued to parry the blows of one of the bird’s vicious pecks.  Kendall had seen both bird’s reactions to Neozama and Braun’s ordeals, and tried something unorthodox.  Catching the remaining birds attention, the ranger made the most ridiculous face he could at it.  The bird stopped attacking and joined its fellows with more squawk-laughter.  A very confused Neozama and Braun carefully maneuvered backward.

“HAH!”  A door slid open and revealed the same elderly man they had met in Hayot’s realm earlier that day.  “Oh boy, did I have you folks fooled.”  He placed his hands on his sides, bracing them from laughter, “And then you slipped on the banana peel!  Classic!”  The man slumped on the floor, obviously overcome with laughter.

Neozama glanced to his companions, unsure what to make of this foolishness.

“I stopped it before you got hurt of course.  But it was worth it!”  The man was overcome by giggles before finally muttering, “And that face you made!  Priceless!

Kendall sheathed his bow, “Saru is a trickster.  This was all a joke at our expense.”  The ranger had heard some rumors about Saru’s followers. They did whatever they could for a laugh.  “Sir, we’ve provided you with your entertainment for the day, but I believe a promise is still a promise.  You said you’d help us if we gathered your things.”  The ranger displayed all of the items they had collected for the man.

The priest stood back up, wiping his eyes of tears, “Oh yes, certainly.  Saru may lie for a laugh, but he’s good on his word at least.”  The man gestured toward the other room, “You are welcome to reside here for the night, joke free if you insist.  Saru welcomes you to his realm.”

(Sarah) (Ben)

Part 2 Recap – Clerestory

Adventure 2 – Clerestory

The Library of the Oracle was a welcome respite for Patches.  His upbringing among his clan of barbaric humans rarely offered such comforts as he found within the cathedral walls.  Sadly, his time among his people was long past.  Ever since he had found his village burned to the ground and his family murdered, he had done whatever he needed to survive the harsh wilderness.  When he reached more civilized lands, he turned to the Prince of Shadows for employment and assistance in finding his family’s murderers.  When word had reached him that the Oracle may know their identity, he knew that he would have to investigate.  After completing his trials, he had spent a night resting in the library before he would ascend the cathedral more.  Perhaps he could find some willing companions that would climb the cathedral steps with him….

Braun had been spending his time in the library pocketing some of the records he found.  Sure, the book about his fate would prove directly useful, but the other tomes could offer insight into notable figures.  He secured another booklet in his coat when he felt a tap on his shoulder.  A large barrel chested man with a greatsword slung behind his back towered over him.  “Are you heading toward the Oracle?  Ellindria told me I might find you capable travel companions.”

The half-orc rogue glanced around him again to make sure nobody was watching.  “Yes, a few of us are making our way up the Cathedral.”  A quick assessment of the large man showed he was a capable warrior.  “We might need someone of your… talents.  We were about to leave once Neozama finishes his meditation.”  The rogue pointed to the human sitting cross legged with his eyes closed.  “Says it helps him center himself.  Come on, I’ll introduce you.”

Kendal moved back to Neozama, her fate book in hand.  “Neozama, we are ready to ascend the Cathedral.”  She looked over to Braun and the battle-hardened following him.  “It appears Braun has found us a friend.”

Neozama’s eyes flittered open, his dream of the Golden Wyrm fading from his mind.  The man following Braun had an aura of strength and purpose to him.  He would be useful in their pilgrimage, Neozama thought.  Before Braun could open his mouth, the monk raised a polite hand to silence him.  “Welcome pilgrim, we are ascending the cathedral steps.  Some of our party is staying here in the library, but we look to push on.  We would be honored to have you with us.”

Patches nodded happily, “The honor shall be mine.  I seek the Oracle, but I think some of these trials may be better accomplished among many.”  Kendal smiled and gestured toward the front door.  Together, all four of them left the library to the floor above.  Kendal closed her eyes momentarily, eagerly imagining what trials they would face.

The ranger would not have to wait long.  As they reached the next floor they found themselves in front of two very large golden doors with shadows creeping in around its edges.  The center of the door showed an image of an armored woman with bright yellow hair, holding a mace glowering like the sun above her.  “Pelnora, Darkness’ Bane and bringer of the light.”  Braun muttered unhappily.  Pelnora’s followers tended to dislike individuals who operated in the shadows as he did.  Patches pushed the doors open to a large marble room bathed with intense sunlight.  At the other end of the chamber, a miniature sun pulsed brightly.

Pelnoran Room

A small man walked toward them in pearly white robes.  His fellow priests were all lining the walls of the chamber chanting softly.  “Welcome to Pelnora’s illuminary.  Please excuse my brothers, they are praying to Pelnora for guidance.”

Braun noticed that the monks were here aplenty but could not see any of the famous Pelnoran paladins who had so happily attempted to smite him in the past.  “Where are your paladins?  I only assumed they would be here.”

The man bowed his head, “They have gone to the domain of the Victor for aid.  Pelnora has sent a message.  Shadows infiltrate the cathedral; we must be on our guard.”  He hesitated for a second, “As a matter of fact, I cannot let you go further without Pelnora judging you herself.  Please understand.”  The priest glanced around nervously, obviously afraid of causing any trouble.

Patches pushed his way through his companions, proudly stating “I have nothing to hide.  Let us be judged.”  When the priest gestured toward the miniature sun at the other end of the chamber, the Barbarian eagerly strode forward with his new companions in tow.  “Pelnora, you will find my purpose true.  I seek justice for the slain members of my clan.”  The Barbarian smiled confidently at his companions before a searing pain tore through his head.

A voice ripped through their minds, “They consort with shadows!  They must be destroyed!  Guardians, purge their souls of darkness!”  The cracking of stone sounded from behind them.  Turning, Neozama saw three large marble statues of saints coming alive and disengaging themselves from the walls.  Picking up large blades bathed in sunlight, the marbled saints moved to attack.  Kendal fired off an arrow as Neozama quickly assumed an opening combat stance to greet his foes.  Patches let loose a terrible battle cry and launched himself at a marble saint in a frenzy.  Braun twisted his cloak and disappeared in a twirl of inky shadows.  “The shadow has entered the chamber!  Destroy them!”  The rogue, as usual, was getting them into trouble.

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The marbled saints moved forward with frozen faces, swinging their sun-touched blades at the adventurers. Neozama deftly danced between his attacker’s swings and retaliated with fist and staff. As the monk built towards a finishing blow, the sun behind him pulsed brightly searing at his back.  Everyone not hidden in shadows behind the pillars was scorched. Braun reappeared behind a marble statues and struck true with his knife, severing an arm of one of the statues. As the marbled saint turned to engage the rogue, it was intercepted by Patches fury. The barbarian hacked away at the towering marble figure with all of his unspent rage. Another pulse of the sun and the marble figure regained its composure, pressing its attack.

Statues2

As the sunlight bathed their marble bodies, the statues seemed emboldened and begun to attack faster. Kendal ducked behind one of the pillars with Neozama, finding solace in the shadows. As the sun pulsed again, Kendal and Neozama felt a rush of calming energy as the shadows seemed to soothe and comfort their stay. The ranger stood his ground in the shadows, gracefully launching a barrage of arrows at the nearest statue, shattering it to pieces on the floor. Patches fed off the thrill of fallen foes and with a victorious cry, crashed his sword through another statue’s head.

Statues3

The two remaining statues tried to continue their assault, but the numerous damages they had suffered took their toll. Kendal noticed that their successful swings seem to only occur when the were in direct sunlight, and relayed it to his comrades. Working together, they were all able to harry the marbled saints together into a group. Once the marbled saints had been backed into a pillar Neozama and Patches delivered fatal blows to the constructs. Braun watched with delight as their remains made a ruined heap on the floor.

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The small priest from before peeked around the pillar he had hidden behind.  “Please, we wish you no more harm.  The saints of Pelnora are zealous in their pursuit of justice.”  Braun sneered at the priest.  His opinion of Pelnora’s followers didn’t improve at all by this encounter.  Kendal spotted the exit and gestured her companions to follow.  Outside the chamber of Pelnora they found a curiously rustic section of the cathedral.  Dirt and grass were spread out where marble should have been.  As they moved onward they saw more marble ripped up and small gardens planted in the dirt.

SymbolBejamAs they turned a corner, they found a very peculiar image before them.  A small hut had been built of discarded marble flooring, cathedral pews, and spare bits of masonry.  Running around the hut was a flustered looking dwarf and anxious halfling, both of them swinging large nets at what looked like Flying Lobsters?  The halfling spared a glance at the adventures and yelled, “Don’t just stand there!  Get them back in the crates!”  Kendal was excited to see a new creature and happily picked up a net and went to help.  Neozama climbed the nearest tree and tried to catch the beasts that flew by.  Patches knew his strengths and tried to intimidate the beasts into tighter circles that were easier to catch.

Together they were able to round up the remaining flying lobsters into the crates.  The dwarf breathed a sigh of relief and leaned against the locked crate.  “Oiy, thank ye kindly.  Someone traipsed through here and smashed the crates.”  He wiped his brow and picked up a mug of mead, “My name is Father Rumelowe, leader of this chapter to Bejam.  This here is brother Gamage, my assistant.”

Kendal was examining the lobsters through the crates, “I’ve never seen this before.  Where did you find these beasts?”  One snapped at her fingers and she quickly ducked back.

Brother Garnage smiled, “We got them from Darkskye the last time it flew by the Cathedral.  We trade them the mead made by the monks of Cathol and they provide us with those lobsters.  It is our trade which provides enough food for the attendants on this floor.”  Rumelowe and Dolcis invited the lot to sit and relax a while.  They were excited to hear the tales of the pilgrims and happy to share their knowledge of the cathedral.  From the two of them they learned that the paladins of Cathol had joined the paladins of Pelnora in seeking aid from The Victor.  Apparently something had put them on high alert lately.  After a few more traded stories, they merrily set the adventurers back on their path.

SymbolMonkBearSymbolCatholSymbolMonkBear

The ground continued to be composed of raw earth and grass instead of marble across the rest of the floor.  They eventually found themselves in front of an iron gate with a white shield and cross dripping with golden honey dominated the face of the door.  Neozama breathed a sigh, “The priests of Cathol.  They are a humorless lot, very straight to business types.”  Pushing the door open they found themselves looking on a large collection of pine trees all with small beehives hanging from their branches.  A bloodied body of a gnome leaning against a nearby tree caught Neozama’s attention – He recognized him as one of her neighbors in Santa Cora.  “Friend!  What happened?!  Who attacked you?”

The gnome was shaken but look relieved to see Neozama.  “My sister and I came to purchase some mead like we always do.  But this time, the monks went wild and attacked us.”  He winced and clutched at his side, “Their paladins are gone.  Apparently they partook in the mead and their god has punished them by turning them to bears.  Please, find my sister in the trees – I can’t leave her behind.”  Neozama nodded then looked to his companions.  The monk silently directed his allies to spread out and move in to the woods.  They couldn’t afford to leave an innocent in danger.

The woods were eerily quiet and it didn’t take long to find the gnome woman crying for help up one of the trees.  As Patches went to help her down, a rampaging bear burst through the underbrush nearby.  Three more joined him and as a pack they fell down upon the pilgrims.  Neozama and Kendal made short work of the first one, scoring several lucky blows.  Braun once again twisted in to shadows before reappearing behind the bear attacking Patches.  The barbarian wrestled down two of the bears while the half-orc snuck cut after cut at the bear monks.  In short time, the four bear monks were all unconscious and reverting back to their normal forms.

Bear Monks

“We don’t want to be here when they get up,” Braun said darkly.  “Let’s get the girl to safety and move on.  We need to get to the Oracle soon.”  Patches successfully helped the gnome girl down and gave them some food to see them out of the cathedral safely.  With the gnome siblings rescued, they made their way up another flight of stairs.

The door before them was hard wrought iron trimmed with bronze.  A statue of a warrior holding two axes above his head stood triumphant over countless foes.  Patches smiled, “I know this one.  This god is The Victor, God of Valor, Glory, and War.  My clan paid him respect and honor frequently.”  The memory of his fallen kin wiped the smile off his face.  They needed to get to the Oracle sooner.  Grabbing hold of the door frame, the Barbarian pushed the doors open.  Kendal gasped.

This entire floor of the Cathedral seemed to house The Victor’s realm alone.  A massive battlefield stretched before the party as far as the eye could see.  Numerous paladins stood fighting wave after wave of demons and orcs.  Arrows flew across the field into charging troops.  A voice boomed over the din of battle, “All must prove their valor.  Show your respect for the warriors of old!”  Neozama looked at the battle before them and a vision flashed through his mind.

Battle1

“This is the Battle of the Abyss.  The last effort by the Golden Order to push the Demons back before the Great Gold Wyrm sealed the Abyss himself.”  Neozama looked over at the crowd of Orcs attacking a group of Paladins.  “Although I don’t remember anything about orcs in this battle.  It was only Demons that the Golden Order faced.”  The monk didn’t have time to ponder the situation further before a pair of orcs charged at them.

Patches found himself in his perfect environment and ran to his attackers eagerly.  His misses over made him fly into a deeper frenzy as his blood boiled and his rage built.  Kendal scampered up the nearby ridge to get a better view of the battle.  A nearby rise held a dozen Golden Order archers firing down on their foes.  Neozama engaged the orcs fighting Rob, starting his fighting form maneuvers.  Braun made to disappear into the shadows and felt himself pulled down to the floor as if by an invisible fist.  The voice of The Victor boomed out again, “Stand and fight honorably!”  The rogue cursed and tumbled away from more charging orcs.

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Kendal saw it before the Golden Order did – A large demon flying through the sky to their position.  It crashed down among the Golden Order, swinging its four axes and horns at the surprised archers.  Two of the golden archers perished, bursting into golden smoke as they died.  The ranger decided to help the archers and fired a volley at the large demon, enraging it further.  Below the ridge, Neozama found him attacked from behind as a winged demon descended on him with sharp talons.  The monk twisted around and beat the demon back.  As the demon died, it burst into black smoke and a cheer from the Victor boomed across the battlefield.

With a strong swing, Patches sliced through the two orcs in front of him, watching their bodies tumble to the floor below him.  Kendall noticed that the orcs didn’t dissipate like the demons and paladins.  The ranger gasped, “Those aren’t part of the battle!  Those orcs are real!”  Braun heard the ranger’s warning and didn’t want to risk going toe to toe with an orc.  However, he was pretty certain he could trick the large demon.  With another swirl of shadow, the rogue twisted away confident he would succeed.  The Victor did not stop him this time, apparently satisfied with the rogue’s courage.

Battle5

Neozama and Patches pushed forward, coming under heavy attack from the numerous orcs charging their way.  Kendal continued to plug arrow after arrow into the large demon, adding to the considerable volley the Golden Order was already putting into the monstrosity.  The demon raised his four axes ready to finish off the remaining order when Braun appeared above the creatures head, driving his long knife into the demon’s skull.  Thrashing wildly, the demon finally collapsed defeated.  As the demon dissipated into black smoke, the entire battlefield around them shifted and faded away leaving behind a large marble room.  The Golden Order and demons all dissipated.

Braun glanced around the empty battlefield, “We’ve got a few stragglers.”  The rogue pointed to the remaining bodies of several orcs.  One of the orcs was coughing up blood, on the brink of death.  “They aren’t creations of The Victor.  That’s real blood.”

Kendal moved to the savage creature.  Carefully, he examined the dying warrior.  “He’s real alright.  Why are orcs in the Cathedral?”  She looked to the other bodies as if hoping an answer would present itself.

Neozama nudged the orc and held out a healing potion in front of his gaze.  “Listen, brute.  If you want to live, you’re going to answer some questions.”  The warrior carefully nodded, his eyes not leaving the bottle held before him.  “Right.  Why are you in the Cathedral?  Where are you going?”

The orc coughed up another glob of blood, “The captain brought us here, said we had a job from the Lord himself to do.”  He winced against the pain and reached for the potion.  When Neozama pulled the potion back, the warrior grimaced.  “I do as I am commanded.  We were going up.  Only the captain knew.”  He pointed to the orc slain by Patches.  “The potion.  Please”

Neozama carefully handed the potion to the orc.  He would stay true to his word.  Besides, the orc would still need to find a way out of here on his own.  If the gods saw fit to let him go, he deserved his freedom.  “Come friends.  It appears we’re not the only ones ascending the cathedral.  We must make haste for the Oracle.”

GM Note –

Due to holiday scheduling craziness, I had to edit the sequence of events and gods visited in the adventures.  For the Pelnora chamber, I thought it would be fun to highlight the god’s hatred of shadows.  So I used Braun and Patches’ history with the Prince of Shadows as reason for the goddess to send her followers after them.  The sun pulsing and shadow safety seemed like a neat mechanic in combat so I went with it.  Instead of using Ceith in section 2.5, I borrowed the domain of war from adventure 3 and created a god to match a new player’s character.  Patches’ had a history of worshipping the god of war and glory, whom I named The Victor.  In order to better match other characters icon relationships for the setting, I placed the Victor’s realm as being a large Battle of the Abyss.  This highlighted Neozama’s relationship with the Great Gold Wyrm.  I also included the orcs showing up as I wanted players to have an ongoing element to investigate and be wary of beyond the threat of the Gods.  I was very happy with how flexible the adventure and game was to all of these changes.

Also, please forgive all the unpainted minis.  Spending time with our lovely family and friends this holiday season ate up all the free time we normally dedicate to painting figures for our players and our games.  The players all picked brand new miniatures so, alas, the party will be only primed white in all photos.  

(Sarah) (Ben)